Week-by-week countdown to birth

Your essential to-do checklist to get you fully prepared in the last few weeks before birth

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  • 3 weeks to go

    You might have a sudden burst of energy but this nesting instinct is quite normal. Just don't overdo it and tire yourself out - make the most of this time to relax!

    • Hire a TENS machine.
    • Pack your labour bag.
    • Build your cot, if you haven't already.
    • Store numbers for the maternity unit.
    • Make a list of friends and family's phone numbers.
    • Unpack and assemble your other baby gear.
    • Stock up on nappies, wipes and cotton wool balls.
    • Sip raspberry leaf tea from health food shops.
  • 2 weeks to go

    It's so hard to get comfy in bed! Try a warm bath before bed, then lie on your side with a pillow under your bump or use a pregnancy pillow. You may get cramps, like period pains, known as Braxton Hicks or 'practice' contractions, which generally taper off.

    • Swot up on pain relief, and check what's on offer at the hospital or birth centre.
    • Prepare for labour by eating high-energy complex carbs, plus proteins such as chicken and fish.
    • Get measured for a nursing bra - if you're breastfeeding, you're likely to need several.
  • 1 week to go

    Just 5% of babies arrive when they're due, so best not to get too obsessed about the due date.

    • Stock up the freezer with home-cooked meals, so you don't have to worry about cooking once the baby has arrived.
    • Do a 'dummy run' to the hospital so you'll know how long it takes and you won't get lost!
  • Your due date arrives...

    ...but there's no sign of your baby! Don't worry, it'll happen soon. Most hospitals won't let you go more than 10 to 14 days overdue. Your midwife may suggest a membrane sweep: she'll sweep a finger round your cervix, which may kick-start labour. If this doesn't work, she'll discuss induction and you'll be given a booking-in time at the hospital.

    Remember, natural ways to get things moving include acupuncture, gentle exercise, such as walking, and having sex, snacking on pineapple, and even stimulating your nipples!

  • Continue slideshow >

  • Your other to-do list!

    • Become a lady who lunches
    • Have afternoon naps
    • Go out for dinner with your partner
    • Buy a loose outfit to wear after the birth, as you'll still have a swollen tum
    • Catch up on the latest films at the cinema
    • Get your hair done - think chic, but low-maintenance
    • Get a manicure and pedicure - OK, so you can't see your toes, but it'll make you feel good!

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